One of the many new elements to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will be pit stops, as IMSA has implemented a procedure that takes a combination of rules from both the American Le Mans Series and GRAND-AM.
Under the new system, four crew members, including one refueler, will be allowed over the wall, with a maximum of two air guns. Additionally, refueling will occur at the same time as the driver and tire changes.
Previously, up to three air guns were permitted in GRAND-AM for GT teams with multi-lug wheels, while ALMS prohibited any work to be done to the cars while refueling.
As IMSA’s VP, competition and technical regulations Scot Elkins explains, the series has taken a ‘best of both worlds’ approach.
“It’s not like a GRAND-AM stop and it’s not like an ALMS stop,” Elkins said. “It’s going to be with two guns. We’ve tried to meet in the middle between the two sets of regulations. We’re hopeful that it balances out but I’m sure it’s something we’re going to have to tweak on.”
An element that will be new for teams from both series will be quicker refueling times. IMSA has allowed for roughly a 10 percent larger refueling restrictor, which should speed up fuel delivery by three to four seconds for a full tank.
The change was made so that refueling could be completed in less time that it takes to perform a four tire change. Therefore, teams could theoretically gain time in the pit lane by double-stinting tires.
“It’s an adjustment for literally every team in the field because no one has run under these rules before,” said Flying Lizard Motorsports team manager Eric Ingraham. “We’ve got a good idea of where we’re going to end up.
“Our tire changes are still well ahead of what the fueling time is for a full tank. I know they do seem to want to get the fueling time down but I don’t have a good feel for where we’re going to end up with that.”
Ingraham, whose team switches from Porsches to two brand-new Audi R8 LMS cars for GTD this year, is hopeful that his crew will still be able to change tires in the time it takes to refuel.
“The longevity of the tires is excellent, frankly,” he said. “But I still think you can get a four tire change done in the time that it takes to put fuel in.
“That said, I don’t think you’ll come out behind by changing tires. I still think you’ll have the strategic opportunity to either change tires and not lose anything, or not change them and probably not lose much anyway because the longevity is so good.”
One of the side effects of the new pit stop procedure is that many of the GTLM teams have had to relocate their car’s fuel filler, as the majority were located near the rear wheels.